The following is a transcript of a
Raised Catholic podcast episode.
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Today is episode 127: The Great Tapestry of God
Hi friends. As I explained in last week’s episode, I am newly back from a week’s pilgrimage in Rome, and I had so many deep spiritual experiences there – really, it was such a much-needed zoom-out on faith for me, honestly – that it’s going to take me a whole summer to unpack it all. Well, today is the first of that series and it is called The Great Tapestry of God.
Now, as you might imagine, we saw quite a few tapestries while in Italy – these were unimaginably ambitious works of art that must have taken multiple people and many, many months or even years to create. These tapestries covered whole huge walls, and you can’t really overstate the labor and dedication and time that it must have taken to make each one, let alone wrap your head around the idea that, centuries after they were made, people from all over the world would be looking at them and appreciating them and restoring them, some of those people coming from countries like ours which wouldn’t even exist for centuries after the art was completed. And isn’t that crazy to think about? Could those tapestry makers have had even an inkling of an idea about the longevity of what they were making? Do we humans ever know the reach of our work while we are doing it?
In the fall of 2016, I created a batch of ‘kindness rocks’, you know, those rocks that are painted with a helpful or encouraging message and then left around in places for other people to find? Well, I left a bunch of those rocks around town that fall, but there was one that I could not bear to part with – it said, ‘You’re right where you’re meant to be’. And I guess there was something in my spirit that told me that I might need that message in the future, and, oh my, that inkling proved to be true.
“You’re right where you’re meant to be.” Is that a true statement? Is it always true? Honestly, if you ask me, it kind of depends on the day, but I do wonder what you might think about that.
As I said in last week’s episode, this week in Rome was an opportunity to which I almost said ‘no’. This wasn’t the sit-leisurely-in-a-vineyard-eating-fresh-mozzarella-and-basil kind trip I had imagined, but that same inkling in my spirit that told me to hang onto that kindness rock very clearly told me that God had something specifically for me in Rome. And I wonder, do you ever hear from God as you make the decisions in your life, small or large, for better or for worse? And what does that voice sound like? In my life, I have come to recognize God’s voice in the center of my chest, almost a bubbling up kind of sensation, a fresh and kind clarity, but I know that all of us are different, and so our experience of God is also likely different and friend, you know I would love to hear your stories, too.
It wasn’t until the second day of our trip, in Assisi, that I began to see the big story that God was unfolding for me, the tapestry that He had woven together way before we had ever crossed an ocean to discover what He had made. And I’ll talk more about that amazing day in a later episode this summer, but here let me just say that I believe God gives us indicators that we are where we are meant to be, signposts that give light to a path that God made just for us.
Now, I used to believe that there was a narrow sliver of ‘best life’ that God had planned for each one of us from the start, and if we fell off of that track somehow, well, we deserved whatever ‘less-than’ existence we got in the bargain, but friend, I do not believe that anymore. I have seen too much of life to believe in that kind of scarce God, seen too many times where God took my mistakes and the things that happen to us, and in time, made of it something meaningful and even good. I’ve seen the reality of Romans 8:28, where God works in all things for the good for those who love Him, to believe in that kind of narrow God anymore. I believe God adjusts to us and the things that happen, always in love in the course of our lives, and as Fr. Greg Boyle says, “When one knows the God of love, fire all the other gods.”
Still, my word for this year is ‘path’, and I wrote all about that in a piece that I’ll link for you in the show notes. I discerned that word based on a few pictures God gave me in prayer, pictures that helped me to know that God had good and even surprising things in store for me this year, things He didn’t want me to miss. These were images that helped me to know that my path through 2023 was created in advance by God in love, and that my path matters. And this wasn’t about staying to that narrow path for me any longer, no, but just a hint and really kind of a joyful one, about what could be available for me as I walked out this year together with God. This trip to Rome is just one of a bunch of stuff I’ve already seen God lavish out in love for me this year, really out of nowhere. He is so kind.
But what are the ‘lampposts’ I’m talking about? How did I know that not only was I right where I was meant to be, but that all of us gathered there on that trip were, as well? Put simply, it was the crazy human connections, and here are just a few examples for you. Two amazing women I am so privileged to have met – well, they deeply connected over a shared loss – their two mothers lost on the same day in the same year. Honestly, what are the chances of that? And then there was that story of an unbelievable connection between two families that was hilariously discovered a table away from us at dinner one night. Both of these instances happened between people who not met before, yet God wove their stories together into a beautiful, shared tapestry by gathering us all in one place at one time, and He gave us the grace to see it. And what about the timing of this trip that really fell into our laps? Last year I wrote about Pentecost in Rome and this year, I was in Rome during Pentecost. So weird. What about the fortuitous happenstance of an elite bike race happening right where we were, something my cyclist husband would have only dreamed of seeing and somehow got to witness firsthand. What about Josephina, the sweet restaurant owner and chef whose face reminded me uncannily of someone I have definitely known before, and whose name literally means, ‘God adds’. What about the sweet man who opened up the hotel restaurant so early for us each morning? Were we supposed to have met and exchanged kind words in our lifetimes? Why did it feel that way? And what about the long look between me and our tour guide that communicated without words the shared experience of worrying over a child. What about the fact of this college choir trip, so similar to the one that my husband and I went on when we were in college, culminating just before our 30th wedding anniversary. There are so many more stories of connection, too many to tell, really, too many instances where you just have to look at God and shake your head at His Providence, at his kindness and abundance toward we small humans whose lives are maybe much bigger than we think.
God is making quite a tapestry of our lives, in time and place and circumstance. I believe our connection to each other is not an accident, but a gift, and there are some opportunities in our lives when we have the grace to stop and zoom out and see it all for the gift it really is. Our week in Rome was just one of those opportunities for me, but I find I have brought that lens home with me in a weird way, too. A sweet certainty about the care and Providence of God, how He guides and directs us, how He meets us where we are, how He loves connecting us with each other, and how He makes all things new, over, and over and over. That my thread was woven alongside each person on that trip, and that it is being woven alongside yours in some small way is not something I take lightly or for granted, friend, and it is my prayer this week that you will notice the threads around you in a whole new way, too, finding some peace in knowing that in some way you are right where you are meant to be.
What a beautiful tapestry He is making of all of us. What a gift that we will one day see the whole, beautiful thing, thanks be to God.
Thanks so much for being with me today, friend. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my website at kerrycampbell.org. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with some resources related to today’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, you alone know the great tapestry you are weaving of we humans in time and space, in holy connection with each other. Thank you for each crossed path, each person we encounter, even for a short time, and help us to know the weight and meaning and possibility of those encounters as we live out our lives the best we can, in love.
In the name of Jesus and wrapped in the mantle of our mother, Mary, we pray, amen.
Well, thanks so much for listening today, friend. I’ll see you next time.
This week kicks off a summer series on a bunch of spiritual takeaways and epiphanies I experienced while on pilgrimage in Rome. I hope this one about how our lives are woven together by God in love is a meaningful one for you.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or at my website. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Thanks as always to my friend, Peter Vaughan-Vail, for providing the beautiful harp music you hear in this and every episode.
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself:
2. Song: The Circle Game, by Joni Mitchell
3. Article: Guide to Vatican Gallery of Tapestries, by Brandon Shaw
4. Journal prompts:
As I look at my life, how can I see the Hand of God weaving my life and experiences with those around me?
Do I believe that we are always ‘right where we are meant to be?’ Why or why not?
How would I describe the path I am on today? What are the lampposts that show me the light on the good parts of my path?